Finalist 2016: Anna Hall, VIC
Name: Anna Hall
Community, State: Drouin, VIC
School: Marist-Sion College Warragul
Age: 17, Grade 11
Why is gender equality important to you and your community?
The question “Why are you still pushing for gender equality?” is one that I’ve heard far too many times. It implies that gender equality was achieved years ago, rather than it being a work in progress, travelling far too slowly. In return, I propose this question. Why would we not push for gender equality, when in 2005 the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 12.4% of women had been sexually abused before they turned 15? In 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria, many sold into slavery and unethical marriages. This year, an American rapist’s sentence was labelled “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action”.
These instances of blatant sexism are the reasons gender equality is imperative to me. In my position of privilege (one unaffected by issues of racism nor classism) I am fortunate enough not to be severely affected by gender inequality today. However, I am not oblivious to the many instances of sexism that exist in our world affecting other women, particularly those who are also subjected to other forms of discrimination. Gender equality is important to me because I strongly believe it is important not to forget these women. I am fortunate enough to have incredible opportunities, and I believe it is my role to fight for gender equality until all women enjoy these same possibilities.
Gender equality, however, is not merely about individuals. It is a construct that must be supported and sustained by communities. This not only benefits women, but the community itself. It is important to me, my school and hometown of Drouin, that gender equality is pursued, as the contributions girls make to their local communities are far too valuable to ignore. We cannot succeed without a variety of leaders representing a cross-section of our people, and this must include women. The benefits to our community from maintaining gender equality are too great a loss to suffer if not pursued, whether they be fathers being able to stay home and care for their children while our mothers work, or young girls such as my peers being allowed to pursue a rich academic experience in the sciences, or a woman embarking on a political career. My school, my town and I cannot afford to forego the positive contributions of strong women, who must be fostered by a community that supports and encourages them.